The Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing over the dissolution of the opposition CNRP for next month, while lawyers for the party’s jailed leader are set to appear in court today to seek his release.
The Interior Ministry filed a request to the Supreme Court to have the CNRP dissolved following complaints lodged against it by the Funcinpec party and the Cambodian Youth Party.
On Friday, judge Dith Munthy set a date of November 16 to debate the case.
The decision came before a deadline yesterday for the CNRP to appoint lawyers for the case and submit evidence to fight the charges that it was plotting to overthrow the government.
Vice-president of the CNRP Pol Ham said earlier that the CNRP would not be submitting anything to the court because the entire case was a politically motivated sham.
“Even if we have 100 or 200 lawyers, they’re still going to dissolve the party if they want to,” he said.
CNRP lawmaker Mao Monivann said yesterday that the party’s stance was not going to change despite a hearing date being set.
“They can do whatever they want,” he said, adding that the party will just wait and see the results.”
Spokesman for the ruling CPP Sok Eysan dismissed the idea that the case was politically motivated and insisted it was motivated by implementation of the law.
“It is their right, whatever they want to say, but the court gave the CNRP 20 days to assign lawyers and submit evidence,” he said.
“Procedures are being followed. Inciting people to join a colour revolution is illegal and they must be held responsible.”
Today, lawyers for jailed CNRP leader Kem Sokha are to appear at the Supreme Court to seek his release from prison, where he remains on treason charges stemming from comments made in 2013 video footage in which he says the US government had helping him to push for regime change in Cambodia since 1993.
Sam Sokong, one of five lawyers for Mr Sokha, said his team would attend the trial to demand the release of Mr Sokha because his parliamentary immunity had been wrongly breached upon his arrest and detention.
“We are ready to defend that case,” Mr Sokong said. “We hope the high court will release him because his arrest was illegal.”
Meanwhile, Mr Monivann said yesterday that an open letter circulating online from Mr Sokha, in which he responds to comments made by former leader Sam Rainsy that he cannot lead the party while in jail, was fake.
“It is not an official letter because president Kem Sokha is jailed now, so how can he sign it,” Mr Monivann said.
In the letter, Mr Sokha asks Mr Rainsy to cease his comments about the future of the CNRP after the former leader posted a message on his Facebook this week saying that Mr Sokha could not lead the party from jail because he was under duress, voiding his decision-making capabilities.
“I announce that I, Kem Sokha, am still president of CNRP, so I have the right to make decisions for the party,” the letter said.
“I appeal to Sam Rainsy to cease immediately his activities of incitement to break up the democratic voice of the CNRP.”
Also yesterday, the Supreme Court finalised the dissolution of nine minor political parties which had ceased their activities following a request from the Interior Ministry in August.
The nine were: The Khmer People Party; Khmer Citizens Party; Khmer Society Party; Sangkum Thmey Party; Khmer Nationalism Party; Neang Neak Neary Khmer Party; Freedom Light Party; Woman Rescue Cambodia Party; and Liberal Unification Party.